In 2014, three men cheated 182 people of over $6 million before fleeing to China. The only one of them to return, Koh Chek Seng, was sentenced to 10 years' jail on Friday after he pleaded guilty to 17 counts of cheating and one count each of converting and transferring the benefits of criminal conduct out of jurisdiction. According to the website The New Paper, this may be the largest cheating case in the local car industry's history.
Reports further mention that in March, 2014, Chek Seng and his alleged accomplices - Alvin Loo Mun Yu and Jason Koh Chi Kang - discussed making money by setting up a company dealing with imported cars.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP), Ng Jean Ting, addressed local media about the details of the case. According to reports of Jean Ting's media conference, Jason Koh suggested his friends if the company "failed", they would close it and flee with customers' deposits. With these intentions, a car dealership titled Volks Auto Pte Ltd was set up in April 2014.
Channel News Asia reports that the trio never intended to run Volks Auto as a legitimate business. They used their showroom at 50, MacPherson Road, as a front to fool customers into depositing tens of thousands of dollars for cars they would never going to receive.
To create the illusion of a legitimate business, Koh arranged for four cars - including a Mercedes and a Porsche - to be displayed in the showroom. The trio also hired salesmen, set up corporate bank accounts and issued sales agreements bearing Volks Auto's company logo. The cars at display were arranged by Chek Seng.
DPP Jean Ting told media that although customers paid the deposit to the company, "no effort was made to fulfill the orders". As a result, between May 29 and Dec 7, 2014, they conned 182 victims into handing over $6,163,772 before fleeing to China.
He further told that the firm neither applied for car import licence with the Singapore Customs nor it bid for any certificates of entitlement. Since the trio was fully aware that their scheme would unravel at some point, they used low prices to maximise the deposits.
Defence lawyer Cheryl Ng, who represented Koh pro bono at the court, argued that the court should be lenient as Koh returned to face the music, reported the news website. She also pointed out it was Loo who ran the show and that Koh received only $450,000 out of $6,163,772, or just 7.3 per cent of the trio's profits.
Alvin Loo Mun Yu and Jason Koh Chi Kang still remain fugitives.